Tuesday, October 4 2022
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The Los Angeles Lakers are about to fold, if they haven’t already. The combination of their own loss to Denver and San Antonio’s win over Portland on Sunday puts the Lakers two back of the No. 10 Spurs with four games to play, and the Spurs have the tiebreaker. 

In the East, the Celtics jumped to the No. 2 seed by way of Milwaukee’s loss to Dallas, and the No. 1 Heat clinched at least a top-four seed. Boston (three games left), Milwaukee and Philadelphia (four games left) are tied in the loss column. 

We’re going to be keeping close tabs on the playoff race with daily updates the rest of the way. Below is where things stand as of Monday, April 4.

NOTE: Our SportsLine model, developed by predictive data engineer Stephen Oh, simulates the entire season 10,000 times and is constantly updating to reflect changing circumstances to produce the most unbiased and precise projections imaginable

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Phoenix has clinched the No. 1 overall seed. 

  • Current first-round matchup: TBD (play-in results)  

The Grizzlies have clinched the No. 2 seed. 

The Warriors defeated Sacramento on Sunday and remain one game up on No. 4 Dallas with three to play. With the win, the Warriors now lead the No. 5 Nuggets by three. Denver has the tiebreaker, so Golden State’s magic number to clinch at least a top-four seed is one. 

  • Projected seed: 3
  • Current first-round matchup: Jazz
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 MavericksDallas has clinched with 3-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Denver: Nuggets have clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage

4. Dallas Mavericks 

The Mavericks knocked off the Bucks on Sunday and remain one game back of No. 3 Golden State with three to play. The Mavericks lead the No. 5 Nuggets and No. 6 Jazz by two with the tiebreaker currently in hand over both. Dallas has clinched at least a top-six seed. 

  • Projected seed: 4
  • Current first-round matchup: Nuggets
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Warriors: Dallas has clinched with 3-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Nuggets: Dallas has clinched with 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Jazz: Dallas currently owns via conference record (season series tied 2-2)

5. Denver Nuggets 

The Nuggets defeated the Lakers on Sunday to jump the Jazz into the No. 5 spot. Denver is tied in the loss column with Utah with three games to play (Utah has four games remaining and has already clinched the tiebreaker). The Nuggets are two games up on the No. 7 Timberwolves, who also own the tiebreaker over Denver. 

  • Projected seed: 5
  • Current play-in matchup: Mavericks
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Warriors: Nuggets have clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Mavericks: Dallas has clinched with 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Jazz: Utah has clinched with 4-0 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 7 Timberwolves: Timberwolves have clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage

6. Utah Jazz 

The Jazz are tied in the loss column with the No. 5 Nuggets and own the tebreaker. (Denver currently leads with one more victory, but the Jazz have an extra game remaining to make that up). The Jazz trail the No. 4 Mavericks by two games. Utah could still fall into the play-in as it leads the No. 7 Timberwolves by just two games with four to play, though the Jazz do own the tiebreaker. 

  • Projected seed: 6
  • Current first-round matchup: Warriors
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Warriors: Warriors have clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Mavericks: Dallas currently owns via conference record (season series tied (2-2)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Nuggets: Jazz have clinched with 4-0 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 7 Timberwolves: Jazz have clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage

CURRENT PLAY-IN TEAMS

7. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves kept a glimmer of hope alive for a top six-seed with a win over the Nuggets on Friday, then backed that up with a win over Houston on Sunday. Minnesota trails the No. 5  Nuggets and No. 6 Jazz by two games with three to play (tiebreaker info below). 

  • Projected seed: 7
  • Current play-in matchup: Clippers
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Jazz: Utah has clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Nuggets: Timberwolves have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage

8. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are locked into the No. 8 seed. 

  • Projected seed: 8
  • Current play-in matchup: Timberwolves
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 9 Pelicans: New Orleans has clinched with 3-0 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 10 Lakers: Clippers have clinched with 4-0 head-to-head advantage

9. New Orleans Pelicans

New Orleans fell to the Clippers on Sunday and now leads the No. 10 Spurs by just one game with four to play, and the Spurs have the tiebreaker. 

  • Projected seed: 9
  • Current play-in matchup: Spurs
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 10 Spurs: San Antonio has clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 11 Lakers: Pelicans have clinched via 3-0 head-to-head advantage

10. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs defeated the Blazers on Sunday. Combined with the Lakers’ loss to Denver, the Spurs are now two games up on L.A. for the final play-in spot with four to play, and the Spurs have the tiebreaker. 

  • Projected seed: 10
  • Current play-in matchup: Pelicans
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 9 Pelicans: San Antonio has clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 11 Lakers: San Antonio has clinched tiebreaker via conference record

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

  • Los Angeles Lakers: Trail No. 10 San Antonio by two in loss column with four to play, and the Spurs own the tiebreaker. This is not looking good for the Lakers, to say the least. Even if the Lakers win their final four games (vs. Suns, Warriors, Thunder and Nuggets), the Spurs would have to finish 1-3 over their final four (vs. Nuggets, Timberwolves, Warriors and Mavericks) for the Lakers to get the No. 10 seed. If the Lakers lose even one more game, the Spurs would only have to win one of their final four to clinch the 10 seed. If the Lakers lose two of their final four, it’s over; San Antonio could go winless and still take the 10 seed. 
The Heat can clinch the East’s No. 1 seed with a couple more wins. Getty Images

EASTERN CONFERENCE

The Heat clinched at least a top-four seed with their win over Toronto on Sunday. Miami leads No. 2 Boston, No. 3 Milwaukee and No. 4 Philadelphia by two games with three to play (Boston also has three games left, while the Bucks and Sixers have four games left). 

  • Projected seed: 1
  • Current first-round matchup: TBD (play-in results)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 Boston: Celtics have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Milwaukee: Heat currently own via conference record (season series 2-2, both teams leading division)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Philadelphia: Heat currently own as division leader (season series tied 2-2)
  • Tiebreakers over No. 5 Toronto: Raptors lead season series 2-1 with head-to-head remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Chicago: Heat have clinched via 3-0 head-to-head advantage with one matchup remaining

The Celtics are tied in the loss column with the No. 3 Bucks and No. 4 Sixers. Boston plays Milwaukee on Thursday. If it ends in a three-way tie, Milwaukee would currently have the edge with a 4-2 combined record against the Celtics and Sixers. Boston would land at No. 3 with a 4-3 record against the Bucks and Sixers, and the Sixers would end up No. 4 with a 3-4 record against the Bucks and Celtics. But, Milwaukee and Boston still have one game left on Thursday, so that will obviously impact these records. So, stay tuned. 

  • Projected seed: 2
  • Current first-round matchup: Cavs vs. Hawks play-in winner
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 1 Miami: Celtics have clinched via 2-0 head-to-head advantage with one matchup left
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 Milwaukee: Celtics lead season series 2-1 with one game remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Philadelphia: Celtics currently own with better Atlantic division record (head-to-head tied 2-2)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Toronto: Boston currently owns as Atlantic division leader
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Chicago: Season series tied 1-1 with one game remaining

The Bucks trail the No. 1 Heat by two in the loss column. With four to play, the Bucks are tied with the No. 2 Celtics and No. 4 Sixers; they still have one game vs. Boston left in a game that could seal the tiebreaker for Boston. If it ends in a three-way tie between the Bucks, Celtics and Sixers, Milwaukee would currently have the edge with a 4-2 combined record against the Celtics and Sixers. Boston would land at No. 3 with a 4-3 record against the Bucks and Sixers, and the Sixers would end up No. 4 with a 3-4 record against the Bucks and Celtics. But again, Milwaukee and Boston still have one game left on Thursday, so that will obviously impact these records. So, stay tuned. 

  • Projected seed: 3
  • Current first-round matchup: Raptors
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 1 Miami: Miami currently owns via conference record (season series 2-2, both teams leading division)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Boston: Bucks trail season series 2-1 with one game remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Philadelphia: Bucks have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Chicago: Bucks lead season series 2-0 with two games remaining

The Sixers are tied in the loss column with the No. 2 Celtics and No. 3 Bucks. The Sixers are three up on the No. 5 Bulls and No. 6 Raptors with four to play, so a top-four seed is pretty safe for the Sixers. 

If it ends up in a three-way tie between the Celtics, Bucks and Sixers, the Sixers would end up as the No. 4 seed no matter who wins the game between Milwaukee and Boston on Thursday because they are only 3-4 against those two teams, and Boston and Milwaukee cannot dip to that low of a win percentage among the three teams involved.

If the Sixers and Celtics finished tied, being that they’re both in the Atlantic Division and the season series is tied 2-2, the next tiebreaker would be division record, which would go to Boston at the moment (9-7 vs. 6-9 for Philly). 

  • Projected seed: 4
  • Current first-round matchup: Bulls
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 1 Miami: Miami currently owns via conference record (season series tied 2-2, both teams leading division)  
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 Milwaukee: Bucks have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Boston: Boston currently owns with better Atlantic division record (head-to-head tied 2-2)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Toronto: Raptors lead season series 2-1 with one head-to-head remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Chicago: Sixers have clinched via 4-0 head-to-head advantage

5. Chicago Bulls

The Bulls are three back of No,. 2 Boston, No. 3 Milwaukee and No. 4 Philadelphia with four to play. Chicago is tied with No. 6 Toronto (Bulls own tiebreaker) and is three up in the loss column on No. 7 Cleveland. One more win and the Bulls will clinch at least a top-six seed. SportsLine projections have Chicago finishing as the No. 6 seed. 

  • Projected seed: 6
  • Current first-round matchup: 76ers
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 Milwaukee: Bucks have clinched via 3-0 head-to-head advantage with one matchup remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Philadelphia: Sixers have clinched via 4-0 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Boston: Season series tied 1-1 with one game remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Toronto: Chicago has clinched tiebreaker via 3-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 7 Cleveland: Chicago has clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage

6. Toronto Raptors  

The Raptors fell to Miami on Sunday and are now tied with the No. 5 Bulls (Chicago owns tiebreaker). Toronto is three games up on the Cavs with four to play (Cleveland owns tiebreaker). 

  • Projected seed: 5
  • Current play-in matchup: Bucks
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Boston: Celtics currently own as Atlantic division leader
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Philadelphia: Raptors lead season series 2-1 with one head-to-head remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Chicago: Chicago has clinched tiebreaker via 3-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 7 Cleveland: Cavs have clinched via 3-0 head-to-head advantage with game remaining

CURRENT PLAY-IN TEAMS

The Cavaliers lost to the Sixers on Sunday and are three games back of the No. 5 Bulls (Chicago has the tiebreaker) and No. 6 Raptors (Cleveland has tiebreaker). The Cavs (three games left) have just a one-game lead in the loss column over the No. 8 Hawks (four games left), and Atlanta owns tiebreaker. 

  • Projected seed: 7
  • Current first-round matchup: Hawks
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Toronto: Cavs have clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Chicago: Bulls have clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 8 Atlanta: Hawks have clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 9 Charlotte: Cleveland currently own via conference record (season series tied 2-2)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 10 Brooklyn: Nets lead season series 2-1 with one matchup remaining

The Hawks defeated the Nets on Saturday to take claim on the No. 8 seed, one game up on both No. 9 Charlotte and No. 10 Brooklyn with four to play. The Hawks trail the No. 7 Cavs by one with the tiebreaker secured. 

  • Projected seed: 8
  • Current play-in matchup: Cavs
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 8 Brooklyn: Nets have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage with one game remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 9 Charlotte: Charlotte currently owns via conference win percentage

The Hornets are tied with the No. 10 Nets (Charlotte had secured tiebreaker) and trail the No. 8 Hawks by one with four to play. The Hornets can still mathematically catch the Cavs, who they trail by two games in the loss column, though Cleveland currently owns the tiebreaker. The Hornets are locked into the play-in, meaning they can’t rise above No. 7 and they can’t fall below No. 10. SportsLine projections have Charlotte ending up as the No. 10 seed. 

  • Projected seed: 10
  • Current play-in matchup: Nets
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 7 Cleveland: Cavs currently own via conference record (season series tied 2-2)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 8 Atlanta: Hornets currently own via conference record (season series tied 2-2)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 10 Brooklyn: Hornets have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage

10. Brooklyn Nets 

The Nets fell to Atlanta on Saturday and are now the 10th seed in the East, one game back of Atlanta and tied with No. 9 Charlotte. The Nets are two games back of No. 7 Cleveland with one head-to-head matchup remaining, which could seal the tiebreaker for Brooklyn. The Nets are locked into the play-in, meaning they can’t rise above No. 7 and they can’t fall below No. 10. SportsLine projections have Brooklyn ending up as the No. 9 seed. 

  • Projected seed: 9
  • Current play-in matchup: Hornets
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 7 Cleveland: Nets lead season series 2-1 with one matchup remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 8 Atlanta: Nets have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 9 Charlotte: Hornets have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage

Source: CBSSports.com

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